HUNTERSVILLE – Mayor Jill Swain will not seek a higher political office this year, at least not literally.
“This is my higher office,” Swain said July 2 after announcing she’ll run for her fourth term as mayor this fall.
N.C. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis approached Swain last year to gauge her interest in replacing him, but Swain decided after much deliberation that she didn’t want to fill the Cornelius resident’s seat, she said.
Swain believes it’s as Huntersville mayor where she can get things done and serve residents best.
“I believe there’s a difference between public service and politics,” she said. “Public service means giving back, not having higher aspirations for greater public office or having greater power or making more money. I believe public service is what I was intended to do.”
Swain was first elected as Huntersville’s mayor in 2006 after serving as a town commissioner since 1999.
Commissioner Ron Julian said Swain’s work as mayor has positively affected the town, but she’s influenced more than just Huntersville.
“She’s done a fantastic job leading our town the past several years,” Julian said. “It’s tough for anyone to beat her in a race for mayor because she knows the job so well and she’s good at it. She’s a valuable asset to our town.”
The N.C. Metro Mayors Coalition, a group of mayors from the state’s 28 largest municipalities, chose Swain to serve as vice chair of its executive committee in January.
Swain also joined Southern mayors from Alabama in traveling to China in May to develop business relationships between Huntersville and Chinese industries.
As a result of her trip, Huntersville will host a Joint Technology and Innovation Conference with Asian manufacturers and businesses Feb. 19-21, 2014. The summit is expected to include members of the Asian Manufacturers Association and other organizations specializing in technology and innovation.
The rate of growth the town continues to experience helped influence Swain’s decision to hold off on seeking a higher office. She posted on her SwainsWorld blog in October that she intended to run for president in 2016.
Swain laughed as she said her presidential candidacy won’t be influenced by her campaign for mayor. Swain said she doesn’t expect to make any more announcements about a presidential run anytime soon.
Her desire to make a difference in the town also played a role in her decision to run for mayor.
Swain said after speaking with Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane, she’s considering starting a “Mayors on Main” web show to educate residents on house bills and what their elected officials do for their constituents.
The local level of politics is becoming more important, Swain added. She said she wants to be one of the examples of the “next generation” that gets people involved in local politics.
“I believe it’s at the local level where I am held accountable by my neighbors. I am not hamstrung to fundraising constraints (and) party caucus constraints,” she said. “It’s at the local level where I believe I am meant to fight for the citizens, fight for our cities and fight for economic development opportunities internationally.
“This is where my heart is.”
Candidate filing starts July 5
The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections will accept registration forms and payments from people seeking the office of mayor and commissioner of Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville this month.
Filing for the November election starts noon July 5 and ends noon July 19.
The board of elections office is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays at 741 Kenilworth Ave., Charlotte.
Details: 704-336-2133 or www.charmeck.org.